Christmas is here!

Christmas is here.

I wrap my hands around the mug of steaming hot apple cider.  The office is closed.  The kids are in bed.  Christmas music is streaming over the internet.  Christmas is here.

Tomorrow morning, we will have our traditional Christmas eve morning breakfast at Crackerbarrel.  Tomorrow night will be Christmas eve liturgy at Church, and our traditional family reading of “The night before Christmas.”    And in between, will be the the last minute bustle of getting presents and making sure the stockings will be stuffed.

This has been a tough year for us.  Our Christmas spending is probably 40% of what it was a year ago.  I know we aren’t the only ones in that boat.   But, for the kids, Christmas will be good.

Santa was just leaving as we arrived.  It was a his dinner break.  Union rules, I supposed.  After all, if he can get down our chimney, why does he need a dinner break.  We would have to wait.  My wife and I have three children.  Our daughter is 11, and our boys are 6 and 4.  We all sat on the mall floor for a while.  After a very few minutes, I couldn’t stand the waiting any longer and told my wife I wanted to go down the mall to look for a present.  My daughter and our older boy went with me.  The mall was crowded and my daughter walked close to me and I held my six year old’s hand.  As we went down the mall, we bumped into a friend of my daughter.  For the first time,  I think she was embarrassed to be seen with her parents.  I know this is only the beginning.  She already enjoys tormenting me about her “boyfriend”.

My wife recently took me to see the movie “Twilight”.  If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s pretty good and I recommend it.  There is one scene where Bella brings Edward home to introduce him to her father.  Her father is the local chief of police and his reaction is probably like mine would be.  As Edward comes in, the chief is cleaning his shotguns.  I still think of my daughter as that little girl, with a teddybear, sitting in front of a Christmas tree.  Yet, in a short while, she will be a teenager and in five years, she will probably be dating.  I need to avoid the rush and get my shotguns now.

We came back, not with gifts, but food, then the boys needed to visit the little boys room, so I took them.  They both held my hands again, as we went up the mall.   By the time we got back, the line was moving and soon Santa was back.

My boys went up to see Santa and tell him what they wanted.  My daughter stood over to the side.  What little belief she may have in Santa is rapidly fading.  But my boys hugged Santa, asking for what they wanted this year.  Quickly their time was up and they moved on.

As we walked back to our car, I thought about how quickly 2008 had raced past us.   2009 promises to be a momentous year for us, with many positive changes coming.  Yet as I think of the future, I can’t help but look at my children and wonder how quickly they are changing.  My daughter will soon be a teenager.  My older boy has moved out of that stage of being a little boy to simply being a boy.  Before Spring comes, they will both celebrate birthdays.   I know that before I know it they will be teens and my daughter will be in college and I’ll sit here and wonder where all the time went.

But for the next few hours, it is Christmas.  For the next few hours, I’ll enjoy Christmas music, while it is still on the radio.  I’ll take photos of the kids that I’ll look back on years from now, commenting about how little they were back then.  For the next few hours, Christmas is here and nothing else matters.


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